Converting a Nashbar Steel Commuter for Snow, Slush, Ice duty
I bought a Nashbar steel commuter when they had the 20% code (it's interesting the bike was priced at $350 before and after the coupon but $400 during the 20% off). I'm planning on using this bike with Nokian 106's as my primary winter ride. As such I also ordered a set of SKS B45 fenders to replace the flat aluminum strips and an Axiom Journey rack to match the rack on my other commuters (makes mounting the Ortleib Backrollers easier). I was the high bidder ($0.99) on a BR-IM45 roller brake to go with the SG8-R36 hub as I've killed a few rims (winter here comes with a lot of wet road grit). I'm also planning on replacing the front hub with a Sturmey Archer X-FD. I'm also planning on hitting excelsports.com for the $0.75 DT competition for the front wheel build. Considering the salt, slush and water I'll be dealing with, I'm planning on pulling the rear wheel apart to put anti-seize on the spoke threads and white lithium grease on where the nipples sit on the rim (and building the front with the same lubrication).
The wheels have "no name" spokes - is it worth replacing the rear with DT Competitions? Am I missing any other details to make this a reliable winter worthy bike? Am I asking for trouble with the Shimano roller brake when my low cutoff for riding is -10F?
Thanks in advance for any help.
thNo, it's not worth replacing the spokes. Nor is it worth taking the wheel apart. That's assuming they're stainless, which every wheel I've seen in the last decade or so has been, and not galvanized.
Instead of un-lacing and re-lacing the wheel, put a drop or two of light oil on every nipple where the spoke emerges, then spin the wheel nice and fast to push the oil up the threads by centrifugal force.
Also, ready-built wheels are often built with insufficient tension or are improperly stress relieved (leading to insufficient tension after the first few hundred miles) and this causes premature spoke breakage. So the spokes should be stress-relieved(link) and re-tensioned and trued before riding.
Since it's a steel frame, consider "undercoating" the tube interiors with Weigel's Frame Saver or Amsoil HDMP. Good insurance against interior rust.
The Nokian 106 are enough to allow safe passage of icy spots - if you're aware of their existence. They roll quite well too. But they don't really offer enough bite for anything more than that. I'd say that abt 160 studs/spikes is a minimum requirement for reasonably relaxed winter riding. I've tried 288, which was great traction but horribly heavy rolling. Am currently using 244 and is reasonably happy with that.
I wouldn't rebuild a wheel for use in habitated areas as a preventative measure. There's really very little advantage to a wheel being better-than-needed. I'd check the spoke tension though.
On second thoughts, that depends on the build. A high mileage wheel, with external gears and same spoke gauge both sides - I might consider rebuilding either NDS with thinner or DS with thicker spokes.
If it's an EGH, consider pulling the f/w apart to check for excessive grease that can stiffen up and prevent function.
I really like gripshifters on a winter bike. They work well with mittens.
My winter bike (in MN) is an old hybrid that I picked up of Craigslist and added studded tires, fenders, big metal pedals, and stem friction shifters (removed grip shifts). My philosophy has been more the get a decent bike (also steel) but not to put too much into it. I also repacked bearings with a teflon grease that supposedly stays a little looser in extreme cold than my typical Park grease...although I'm not sure that is true. I didn't get into anything with the wheels, etc. In Minneapolis, we have, more or less, two winter seasons: 1)Snow/Ice/Salt and 2)Slush/Grit/Salt. I like the studded tires for traction, the metal pedals to hold a grip on my clunky winter boots, fenders (with homemade flap) to keep gunk of me and my bike, and the friction shifters because they are more robust for all the crap that collects on the bottom bracket. I had some trouble with grip shifts my first season here. My winter lube is a mix of 3-4 parts OMS and chainsaw bar lube. It is tacky but stays on...I was having to relube after every day or two with regular bike lube. As far as condition of the bike during winter, the biggest thing you can do is wipe down the chain, get the gunk of the bottom bracket, and clean off the rims/brake pads. If you want to get into it, you could make sure to wax the bike before the season...as a little extra protection.
LarDasse, I’ve used the trick of putting a drop of light oil on many spokes that see winter duty. That seems to be an acceptable afterthought solution but those wheels always seem harder to deal with than the ones I’ve built with anti-seize. You’re right these really ought to be tensioned, stress relieved and trued (the spokes “bow” a little leaving the outside of the hub). It seems to me that if I’m starting at bringing up the tension I might as well back the nipples off, add the appropriate lube, then make sure it’s evenly tensioned - the rest of the process is the same.
Hillrider, thanks for the input. I pulled the fork off last night and found a light smear of grease on the headset so wiped it down and added a good quantity of Park grease. Looks like I’ll pull it apart again once I get my hands on some frame saver or amsoil.
Dabac, I’m on my second set of the 106’s so I’m well aware of their limitations. My family is convinced our garage is n+1 gone awry as I’ve accumulated a number of nice commuters over the years. One of them is a Performance MTB frame with a Surly 1X1 fork, and Nokian Extremes so the Nashbar Commuter is for the 90+% of winter commuting where the Extremes are overkill.
Vins, I like the idea of the Teflon grease. The problems I see are the Sturmey Archer X-FD uses cartridge bearings and I’m not too sure about pulling a IGH hub apart. Shimano seems to insist on using their proprietary grease in their roller brake, no too sure about using Teflon there. Part of the beauty of using a roller brake rear and X-FD front is NOT having to worry about cleaning the rims and brakes.
Thanks to all who have taken the time to reply. I’m still curious if anyone has experience with using a roller brake in the cold.
Have S A drum brake hubs in the wheels of My Frozen water bike.
got over 20years of trouble free service.